The Ultimate Whitney Houston Tribute: 5 Songs To Remember Her By [LIST/VIDEOS]
Whitney Houston was destined for fame from the time of her birth August 9, 1963 in Newark, NJ. From her mother Cissy Houston, her aunt Dionne Warwick, to her Godmother Aretha Franklin; Whitney was surrounded by legendary performers.
When she was 19, Whitney Houston was discovered in a nightclub by the renowned Clive Davis of Arista Records, who signed her immediately and took the helm of her career as she navigated from gospel to pop stardom.
Whitney Houston's long list of accolades include:
- 2 Emmy Awards
- 6 Grammy Awards
- 30 Billboard Music Awards
- 22 American Music Awards
- Her album “Whitney” was the first female album to ever debut at #1
- She sold 200 million albums worldwide
In spite of these growing personal troubles, Whitney Houston continued to progress in her career, crossing over successfully into acting in 1992 by starring opposite Kevin Costner in the wildly popular The Bodyguard. With this movie, she set a trend for her films to follow: in each film she also released a hit single, creating sensational record sales for the soundtracks. Her smash single from The Bodyguard, a cover of Dolly Parton's 1974 “I Will Always Love You,” proved to be Houston's biggest hit ever, spending a record-breaking fourteen weeks atop the U.S. charts. The soundtrack album went on to win Houston three Grammys, including Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Later in the 1990s, Houston also starred in The Preacher's Wife and Waiting to Exhale, both accompanied by hit soundtracks as well.
Billy Joel said:
I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music.
Music is powerful and is the ultimate way to memorialize someone. In this case, a tremendous talent and person that was lost to soon. Enjoy our 5 picks to remember the late Whitney Houston.
“I Will Always Love You”
Written by Dolly Parton in 1973, In 1992, Whitney Houston recorded the song for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, her film debut. Houston was originally to record Jimmy Ruffin's “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” as the lead single from The Bodyguard. However, when it was discovered the song was to be used for Fried Green Tomatoes, Houston requested a different song and her co-star Kevin Costner brought her Linda Ronstadt's 1975 version of “I Will Always Love You” from her album Prisoner in Disguise. Houston and producer David Foster re-arranged the song as a soul ballad. Her record company did not feel a song with an a cappella introduction would be as successful; however, Houston and Costner insisted on retaining the a cappella intro. The tenor saxophone solo was played by Kirk Whalum. Whitney Houston's recording is not the only version of the song featured in the movie. In a scene where she dances with Kevin Costner, a version by John Doe can be heard playing on a jukebox. The single debuted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Houston's tenth number one hit a mere two weeks later. It also dominated various other Billboard charts, spending 14 weeks at the top of Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart (the most for a solo female artist & later tied by Mariah Carey's “We Belong Together”), and 11 weeks at number one on its Hot 100 Airplay chart. The song also stayed at number one for five weeks on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and for 11 weeks on the Hot R&B Singles chart becoming the longest running number one on the R&B charts at the time, and remained in the top 40 for 24 weeks. Houston's version was a massive worldwide success, appearing at number 68 on Billboard's “Greatest Songs of All Time.”
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” is the first single from Whitney Houston's second studio album Whitney. The original arrangement was more of a country tune but was transformed to make it a dance song. Critics compared the musical arrangement to her own “How Will I Know” and Cyndi Lauper's “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. The song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at 30th Grammy Awards and in later years received better reviews, being considered an 80s gem. The single was a commercial success, topping the charts in thirteen countries, including Australia, Germany and the UK. In the US, it became her fourth consecutive number one single, selling over one million copies; it's her second biggest hit there, after “I Will Always Love You”. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” won the award for “Favorite Pop/Rock Single” at the 15th American Music Awards on January 25, 1988. Additionally, Houston won the Grammy award for “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” with the song at its 30th ceremony on March 2, 1988, where she received a total of three nominations. The music video for the song was nominated for “Best Music Video” at the 2nd Soul Train Music Awards on March 30, 1988. Houston won the award for “Best Music Video” for the video at the 1st Garden State Music Awards.
“The Greatest Love Of All”
“The Greatest Love of All” is a song written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed and originally recorded by George Benson for the 1977 Muhammad Ali biopic 'The Greatest.' The song was later popularized by Whitney Houston. Creed wrote the lyrics in the midst of her struggle with breast cancer. The words describe her feelings about coping with great challenges that one must face in life, being strong during those challenges whether you succeed or fail, and passing that strength on to children to carry with them into their adult lives. Creed eventually succumbed to the disease in April 1986 at the age of 36; at the time her song was an international hit by Whitney Houston. The song, released in April 1986, was the seventh release from Houston's debut album, and spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May of that year. Houston's music video was filmed at Harlem's Apollo Theater in New York City. In the video, she is a successful singer who is about to perform in front of an audience. She reminisces about the time when she was a child performing in a talent competition and receiving encouragement from her mother. The video features Houston's mother Cissy Houston playing herself, supporting a young Whitney.
“The Star Spangled Banner”
With America entangled in the Persian Gulf War, Houston performed “The Star Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991. Due to overwhelming response to her rendition, it was released as a commercial single and video of her performance, and reached the Top 20 on the US Hot 100, making her the only act to turn the national anthem into a pop hit of that magnitude. Houston donated all her share of the proceeds to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund. As a result, the singer was named to the Red Cross Board of Governors.
Her rendition was considered the benchmark for singers and critically acclaimed. The performance ranked No. 1 on the 25 most memorable music moments in NFL history list. VH1 listed the performance as one of the greatest moments that rocked TV. Following the attacks on 9/11, it was released again by Arista Records, all profits going towards the firefighters and victims of the attacks. This time it peaked at No. 6 in the Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
“How Will I Know”
“How Will I Know was released in February 1985. The song was originally intended for Janet Jackson, but she passed on it. Houston then recorded the song with altered lyrics and production. An up-tempo dance song, the lyrics speak about the protagonist trying to decide if a boy she likes will ever like her back. “How Will I Know” received mainly positive reviews. The song became Houston's second number one single on the United States Billboard Hot 100. The music video gave Houston exposure to the teens and MTV, a feat which the black artists had traditionally found tough to achieve. It also received nominations at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards in the categories of Best Female Video and Best New Artist in a Video, winning the former category. The song has been performed on many of her tours including Greatest Love Tour (1986) and her recent Nothing but Love World Tour (2009–10). “How Will I Know” is also featured as a remix on Houston's compilation album, Whitney: The Greatest Hits (2000), whereas the original version is featured on The Ultimate Collection (2007).